By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Public University
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, there was a significant increase in remote or online employment opportunities. Research by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics found that working remotely grew 44 percent in the past five years and 91 percent over the past 10.
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To put into perspective the number of employees working online, it was estimated that in February 2020, 4.7 million people were working remotely. That figure is up from 2015 when only 3.9 million U.S. employees worked from home.
Coronavirus Pandemic Led to a Sharp Increase in People Working from Home
The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many government and private sector employers allowing their employees to work from home. For example, Slack estimated that 16 million employees in the United States were working remotely because of the coronavirus. That number is expected to grow much higher as the pandemic shows few signs of letting up, keeping increasing numbers of workers at home.
Now is a good time, therefore, to consider a career that permits working from home. One important first step that is different with remote work is the job interview.
Practical Tips for Remote Job Interview Preparation
Interviews are much different for remote positions compared with traditional job interviews even those conducted remotely, so preparation is critical. As an online educator for the past 11 years, I have participated in many online job interviews from home.
One of the most important steps in preparing for a remote job interview is to display strong computer and technical skills. These skills can be demonstrated even before the interview. For example, promptly respond to emails, avoid any grammar or spelling errors in communication with the prospective employer, and have a working knowledge of common software that is used in remote interviews such as Zoom or GoToMeeting.
Some online interviews require the candidate to communicate with the employer via a video teleconference in which everyone involved in the interview is able to view one another online. For these interviews, it is important to consider what your workspace looks like to a prospective employer. That will reflect your organizational skills and preparation for the interview.
It is helpful to become familiar with your computer’s camera and microphone well before the interview. In addition to avoiding embarrassing technical disruptions at the start of the interview, testing the audio and video gives you the opportunity to see how the prospective employer will view your background.
Angling the camera to reflect your college diplomas or other professional accomplishment in the background is another good ploy. Displaying organized files, book shelves, pens and notepad on your desk will also reflect your preparation.
Another strategy is to record the online interview with a smartphone placed out of view of the prospective employer. That way, you can self-critique how you looked and behaved.
During the interview, the prospective employer is likely to be considering whether you have time management and organizational skills, plus the self-discipline to remain on track with work goals and deliverables from your remote work environment. As a result, it’s helpful to emphasize these skills during your remote job interview and answer all questions directly in a businesslike way. Stay on the topic and do not engage in small talk unless it comes from the questioner.
Job Opportunities for Remote Work Are Likely to Continue
Remote employment is likely to grow at a substantial rate over the next several years as we attempt to vanquish the pandemic and revive the economy. A successful remote job interview can pave the way for a career that provides you with the freedom to work from home, reduces the need to commute to work and improves your work-life balance by having more time with your family.
About the Author
Dr. Jarrod Sadulski is an associate professor at American Public University. He has over 11 years’ experience as an online educator. He has engaged in speaking engagements in the United States, Europe, and Central America on the topic of human trafficking, counter terrorism, police responses to domestic terrorism, and police stress management. Most recently, Jarrod presented at the International Human Trafficking Conference. His expertise includes infrastructure security, maritime security, homeland security contraband interdiction and intelligence gathering.
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